In 2017 new rules could pose a serious threat to the largest internet giants

Written by on January 12, 2017 in Opinion with 0 Comments

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With our esteemed colleague John Tanner going against the direction of play and predicting 2017 will be the year of an AI backlash, you have to stop and think.

And we stopped, and what we thought was that 2017 is likely to be a year of quiet reflection, sober planning and possibly immense pain.

The hype that is all around us and burying us in statistics about how huge everything – from 5G, the IoT and virtual reality – will be, will give way to some fairly dire arguments based on common sense.

For example, the EU is clearly now gunning for the internet giants who have got away with anti-competitive practices for years (not to mention some dodgy tax deals). Proposed regulation will bring companies such as Facebook and Google further into line with telecoms operators when it comes to using customer data. Customers, says the EU, should be the ones to choose whether service providers can use their data to serve them those relevant adverts we have been predicting for years (and haven’t yet shown up).

Hefty fines of up to four percent of global revenue will be dealt out for contravention of this proposed law. For companies such as Facebook, whose revenues are based to a very large extent on advertising, this could be a very big deal.

In fact, the EU wants telecoms operators to be able to use customer data more freely to increase their own revenues by offering a greater portfolio of services.

One painful, sobering thought, is that this is the year when the cost of delivering data exceeds the revenue generated from the data, according to industry analyst Tom Nolle, via Telecoms.com. Whether the increased opportunity will balance that equation remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely in the immediate future.

Across the board, it seems that a giant brake is being put on the excessive speed of the industry. We are now acknowledging that 5G in any meaningful form is still years away. We are acknowledging too, that autonomous vehicles will be ready a long time before the regulatory, standardisation and safety worlds are ready to receive them.

It is as if we have hit that point where lines on charts cross, where massive investment is still needed, yet the revenues and profits are still in doubt, and some way off.

It is a year when nerves will need to be strong.

It is also a year when the customer might begin to get his data back. So not all bad.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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